HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition
HTS Overall Score:93
Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is one of the most enduring of the Disney classic animated features. Not only was its use of multi-pane photography a breakthrough in animation technology, but the artistic style and operatic influences were unlike anything Disney had produced at the time. And, of course, the story itself resonated with audiences everywhere – fairies and witches, a prince and princess, a climactic battle between good and evil. Little girls all over the world desperately wished to be given gifts of beauty and song and dreams of a prince that actually came true. It’s no wonder Disney decided to release a Diamond Edition as a sort of companion set to the forthcoming Maleficent release. (Don’t even get me started on Maleficent. They ruined one of the best Disney villains in history.)
I’ve seen this movie dozens of times in my life. Each time, I love the music, the quality of artistry, the Sword of Truth piercing through Maleficent’s dragon chest in a victorious moment for the forces of good. What I never realized was how perfectly they captured Aurora as a teenager. I mean, she actually believes that “if you dream a thing more than once, it’s sure to come true.” Literally believes it. She sings to woodland animals. She cries at the drop of a hat. She gets infatuated with a handsome guy within seconds. And she follows glowing balls of light JUST BECAUSE. The only thing that’s missing is the rebellious streak.
And you know who I never really noticed before? Prince Philip. Well, I noticed him, but I didn’t notice his character development. He was just a pretty face that was supposed to rescue the princess. But look closer at him. Sure, when we first meet him, he’s a kid not that interested in an infant. He does that frowny “ew” look. The next time we meet him, he’s loafing around the forest with his horse following pretty sounds and wooing musical young women. Then he flies off to daddy and says he’s going to marry a peasant girl and forget about being king. He’s pretty teenage-like in his own right. But what happens when he gets captured? What happens when he finds out Maleficent’s plan? He puts on his big-boy pants and saves the day, that’s what he does. Of course, Flora helps with the details, like busting him out of prison, giving him weapons, and saving him from fate-worse-than-death situations, but hey. He did the legwork in hacking the forest of thorns and in fighting the dragon.
I kinda think Flora is an unsung hero in this movie. She’s written as bossy and controlling, but when crisis sets in, you don’t see her flying off the handle or cowering in a corner. She’s got her ducks in a row and she is READY. She’s probably the strongest feminine figure in the whole movie – Maleficent has power, yes, but Flora has self-possession, intelligence, leadership, and courage. When I was a kid, I didn’t like her because she was mean to Merriweather, and I related to Merriweather because she was impish, energetic, and frequently acted on impulse. She was also right about using wands. But if Flora hadn’t been there, the three good fairies would never have taken Aurora into hiding, never raised her to be gentle and kind and (let’s face it) quirky; no one would have put two and two together to figure out Aurora was Philip’s “peasant girl,” bought them the time they needed defeat Maleficent, and most definitely not motivated the other two fairies to get their magical selves up to the Forbidden Mountain to rescue anybody. There would have been no jail break, no Shield of Virtue and no Sword of Truth, no boulders turned bubbles and arrows turned flowers, no boiling oil turned rainbow, and no last-hurrah as Philip delivered the killing blow. Even Merriweather using her gift to change the curse from death to sleep was Flora’s idea. So while she’s brusque and rude and annoyingly obsessed with pink, she’s got the guts to do what it takes to make that happily ever after HAPPEN.
And Maleficent? She’s been my favorite Disney villain since forever. None of the others can compare to her style, her commanding presence, and her blatant acknowledgement of her evilness. I mean, she ruins Flora’s flowers out of spite; she puts curses on babies because she wasn’t invited to the party; she torments a prince with images of being locked in her dungeon for a hundred years; and she calls on the power of hell to transform into a dragon. (She gives dragons such a bad name.) I mean, she can indeed be all bad, as Flora puts it, and she LIKES it that way, making her possibly one of the most dangerous villains ever. You can’t appeal to a better side with Maleficent because there isn’t one! I had a debate with some friends of mine about whether villains who are evil because they like being evil are more dangerous that villains who are convinced that what they’re doing is actually right (e.g. Frolo from Hunchback of Notre Dame). I voted that evil for the sake of evil is more dangerous because the misguided ones still have a chance of being redeemed. (We never finished that debate, btw).
Rated G for General Audiences
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=29265[/img]This presentation of “Sleeping Beauty” is using the same stellar transfer that was used in the 2008 Platinum Edition (not that anyone is complaining), so it still boasts the same fantastically restored image that got praised so much years ago. The colors are vibrant and rich, given new life with the retouched up and redone image. The grain is still intact, as Disney decided to not scrub it dry, but image is almost pristine with a VERY fine layer of grain from the get go. There are no compression artifacts or digital manipulation of any kind, except for a VERY slight issue of aliasing, but still it’s almost impossible to detect unless you’re looking for it. Even with the extras popped on the main feature disc, the disc looks simply amazing and a treat for any film fan to enjoy. Being that it’s the same encode, you’re not going to see a visible upgrade from the Platinum edition if you already have it, but those who haven’t picked it up being that the movie is in the Disney Vault system, will be very happy with the picture as it trounces the DVD six ways from Sunday.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=29273[/img]As with the video, the Diamond Edition recycles the same 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio track from the previous release and that is nothing to sneeze at. The technicians did an amazing job with this old track, restoring all the notes and tones to pristine shape, cleaning away all the hisses, pops, crackles and other audio distortions to leave the track sounding better than it did in the theaters. The classical music oriented score is flawless and enveloping, as it’s remixed into a full 7.1 mix that, to my ears, sounds better than the original 4.0 track (and I’m an original audio snob type of guy). Surrounds are used beautifully to draw the listener into the woodland story and can catapult you to the front lines as Phillips does battle with the evil Maleficent. Dialogue is crisp clean, locked to the front and filled with tons of dynamic range, going from a whisper amount the thickets one moment to a scream the next. LFE is deep and throbbing, adding an epic feel to one of Disney’s legendary classic animated films. The nice thing about the Diamond edition is that there was only the 7.1 remix and 4.0 English tracks on the Platinum edition, but Disney has gracefully added in 4 foreign language tracks to give a hand to non-English speakers.
Extras New to the Diamond Edition
• Deleted Scenes
• The Art of Evil: Generations Of Disney Villains
• Disney Animation: Artists in Motion
• Once Upon A Parade
• Beauty-Oke: Once Upon A Dream
Extras from the Platinum Edition
• Audio Commentary
• The Sound Of Beauty: Restoring A Classic
• Picture Perfect: The Making Of Sleeping Beauty
• Eyvind Earle: A Man And His Art
So, "Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition". Not as many features as the Platinum Edition, but it does have some different ones. I love this story just as much now as I did when I first saw it as a kid, and it’s definitely worth having in your collection because it’s visually stunning, musically captivating, and emotionally resonating. What little girl in us doesn’t want to be able to sing like Aurora? What little boy doesn’t want to slay an evil dragon? Now I'm not going to go out and tell you to BUY BUY BUY like I normally would, and this is just for the fact that some of you own the Platinum edition and are wondering about the upgradeability of the disc. The Platinum Edition was a 3 disc set with a whole other disc full of special features, many of which were cut out from this release. There are several new features in place, but the amount cut out is pretty large. So with the identical (yet still very incredible) video and audio transfers from the Platinum Edition and the missing features, I'd tell people who have the 2008 release that there really isn't any reason to UPGRADE your set from the Platinum version unless you're a fanatic about getting ALL the special features (and want to own both sets). However, since the Platinum edition is out of print and going for some high dollars right now, there is no shame or downside to picking this up for people who don't own the 2008 edition yet. The video and audio are just as spectacular, and even have a few extra audio options for people who aren't native English speakers, plus those new extras are actually pretty cool. So my final thoughts. People who have the original 2008 Platinum can skip it as they already have the meat and potatoes, but those who haven't purchased the set and are living off the older DVDs should definitely pick up this Disney classic as the DVD doesn't hold a candle to this remastered edition.
Starring: Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Audley
Directed by: Clyde Geronimi
Written by: Erdman Penner, Charles Perrault
Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 7.1, English DD 4.0 (original audio), French DTS-HD HR 7.1, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 75 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 7th 2014
Buy Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Must Watch
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